Note: The law differs in Scotland to that in England Wales and Northern Ireland.
Note: Because of differing restrictions on searching for archaeological object in Northern Ireland a seperate information sheet has been produced by the N Ireland Environment agency on the Treasure Act.
The Agency has also produced a guide to Metal Detecting, Archaeology and the Law in Northern Ireland.
The following finds are Treasure under the Act, if found after 24 September 1997 (or, in the case of category 2, if found after 1 January 2003):
Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date* that come from the same find (*see note 3 below)
Two or more coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found and contain 10% gold or silver (if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them).
Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:
hoards that have been deliberately hidden
smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost
votive or ritual deposits.
Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.
Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category.
1) An object or coin is part of the ‘same find’ as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.
2) Single coins will not be treasure, unless they are found in association with objects that are treasure, or unless there is exceptionally strong evidence that they were buried with the intention of recovery.
Section 3 (2) of the Act defines the term ‘coin’ as including any metal token that was, or can reasonably be assumed to have been, used or intended for use as or instead of money. This definition only includes coins and tokens made after the introduction of the first coinage into this country during the Iron Age period and excludes objects made earlier such as iron currency bars. Jettons or reckoning counters are also excluded from this definition.
3) “of prehistoric date” means dating from the Iron Age or any earlier period